Ok, so you’ve gotten your little furry bundle of joy (and mischief) for Christmas and there are no limits to the adventures and fun ahead of you both.
Tiny noses, wiggly bums and clumsy gaits make puppies adorable and make us feel very protective of the new baby in the family, which we should be however, a lot of owners make the mistake of humanising their dog, especially puppies, and give them human traits but make no mistake, although your puppy may seem very human at times, they will always think and act like a dog. They will at the end of the day see you as part of his pack.
Your puppy as he grows will want to please you and your family without expecting great rewards but in order to do this he must feel that he is part of your pack and understand his place in the pack which he will do once you set your rules and boundaries. This is very difficult to do with a puppy due to their cuteness but waiting until he is older to establish boundaries is a big and commonly made mistake.
The New Pack Member
As much fun as it may be to see puppies and children playing together it can also have dire consequences. Puppies are baby dogs! They are not toys! Both must learn to form mutual respect for each other. Basic rules for a happy ending (applies to both adults and children) are;
Leave the puppy alone when he’s eating or sleeping. Puppies can sleep up to 14 hours a day.
1. Be nice to the puppy. Never hit, kick or tease, never pull ears or tail. When provoked dogs, like humans, may lash out. Puppies are not born aggressive – they become a product of their environment.
2. Speak in a calm normal voice to the puppy. Never shout or scream at him.
3. Don’t chase the puppy. If he walks away it’s his way of saying he needs time alone. Let him be.
4. Even if the kids understand these rules, never let them be alone together. Children are prone to breaking rules and passing the blame when something happens.
To enhance their understanding of what having a puppy means bring them into the process of caring for the puppy. Show them how to brush its fur, walk the puppy properly on a lead and help with feeding.
Puppies don’t automatically know what you require from them and, as owners, the burden is on us to teach them right from wrong. Patience and repetition is vital for your puppy to learn.
Remember those new (expensive) shoes you bought just before Christmas – they are potential chew toys now. Puppies can be teething up until they’re approx. 18 months. Like babies everything is chewable including fingers and toes. If you’ve left those shoes in a prominent place and they’re now unrecognisable- your fault not your pups.
When playing, puppies nip. It’s a natural form of play for them (remember they’re not human). Yes it does need to be stopped but in a positive manner. However, bear in mind that some forms of chewing or biting is exploratory mouthing. Dogs learn about an objects texture and feel with their mouth the same way humans do with their hands.
Puppies explore. If you want to confine it to a certain room or rooms it might be wise to invest in a child- gate or two.
Toilet training where you want them to go can be a hit or miss (excuse the pun) as regards to the time it takes to train them and how you do it. There is no point in reprimanding your puppy after the fact as they cannot comprehend the situation then. It is recommended that approx 10 to 20 minutes after eating you escort your pup outside and praise them to the highest when they go. If it means you have to stand outside during that time then so be it. Crating is also an option as dogs do not like to go to the toilet where they sleep. Gradually increase the time they spend in the crate and always make it a positive experience – NEVER a bad experience.
Meeting other humans, animals, situations and environments as soon as you can (after getting his necessary vaccinations) is the most important thing you can do. What you teach your puppy in the earlier weeks will stay with him for life and they learn very quickly as a pup.
Most owners make the mistake of being over protective of a puppy especially when meeting older and bigger dogs. This can lead to behavioural problems as they get older. Just remember, your puppy is learning from you and will react as you do so if you’re nervous or afraid they will be too. If you remain calm and relaxed then so will they. Your puppy, although small and young, is very capable of dealing with day to day situations.
Puppies that are not socialised properly can become afraid or overly shy which can lead to fear and unpredictable behaviour as they get older.
Walking is good to get your puppy used to various environments however be careful as over-walking him can cause physical problems later in life. Depending on breed and size it can take between 18 to 24 months for your puppy to develop fully, physically.
Classes are also a great way of socialising your puppy in a safe and controlled environment and will give them the basic skills of what’s he’ll need to function in polite society.
At our weekly classes we don’t just focus on training dogs in a fun and positive manner we also help owners, especially first time owners, gain a better understanding of their dog’s needs and we also deal with behavioural problems that arise.
The Legal Requirements
Dog Licence: A puppy older than 4 months or who have left their mother must have a licence. These can be obtained from any Post Office.
Dog Identification: Dogs must at all times wear a collar that bears the name and address of owner inscribed on the collar or on a badge or disc. In 2015 a Microchipping of Dogs Regulation was introduced, which means any pup born since 1 June 2015 must be micro chipped and registered on an authorised database before it becomes 12 weeks old. Authorised databases include Animark, Fido and the Irish Kennel Club. All of these will issue a certificate which will be needed for transfer of ownership.
Dog Fouling in a Public Place: Owners/Handlers must clean up and dispose of dog faeces (poo) in a responsible manner.
Stray Dogs: Stray dogs are defined as dogs in a public place not accompanied by their owner or handler and who are not under proper control. Dogs on their may be seized by the Dog Warden / Gardaí if found out and about on their own.
NB: Failure to abide by these regulations can result in an On-The-Spot fine and if not paid this may result in prosecution in the District Court with hefty fines and imprisonment imposed .
More details on owning a dog can be found under the Control of Dogs Act 1986, as amended by the Control of Dogs (Amendment) Act 1992.
For more information on classes and socialising with Profound Hound Dog Training, you can contact Owner and Head Trainer, Mary Dargan by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 087 6702906. Also keep an eye on our website www.profoundhound.ie or FB page for training courses and other activities coming up in 2017.